Strolling Toward Better Election Results (and new friends!)

Strolling Toward Better Election Results (and new friends!)

WHAT IS THE ACTIVITY?  Ballots for the 2012 General Election will arrive in the mail during the 3rd week in October.  This election cycle we face 9 ballot measures – some that could advance democracy, some that make bold promises but seem to deliver little, and some that are overt attacks on the common good.  We will also be asked to determine who is going to represent us in the White House, in the House of Representatives in DC, and who will fill state and local seats. Statistics show that the best way to impact someone’s vote is to receive information from someone they trust – a friend, family member, neighbor, another Rotary member, etc.  Community members are more likely to read literature if it is dropped off at their house as opposed to mailed or picked up at a public venue.

This month your group will receive their STAND Voter Guides in English and Spanish in the mail. This month’s Kitchen Table Activism is to make your local group’s plan to get out the vote.  Your plan can be as easy as a knock and drop on the weekend of October 20th and 21st, a ballot party, or calls to voters in your county.  However you decide to do it, consider how you and your group can influence the decisions that our communities will make this election cycle AND build relationships with voters for the work of our human dignity groups for the years to come.

WHY THIS ACTIVITY? Typical voter contact from electoral machinery is short and targeted.  We get calls asking which way we are voting and if it’s the direction the campaign caller likes, we may get another (or many!) calls nudging (nagging) us to turn in our ballots.  After all those doorknocks and calls are made, the campaign packs up the results – never giving human dignity group leaders a chance to find out who some of our unknown progressive neighbors might be.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Over the years human dignity groups have developed strategies for building relationships with neighbors, having conversations, and inspiring participation while being honest about the state of siege of our democracy.  A friendly call from a neighbor just checking in to see if we have questions about our ballot or dropping by a voter guide can goes far in building relationships, voter turnout, and visibility for our groups.

1. Share this KTA with your group and make a plan. Review the ideas and options below for ways you can be engaging your neighbors and actively identifying new progressives who might be interested in working with you if asked!

2. Review the STAND Voter Guide and decide if your local group would like to add an insert! STAND Voter Guides will arrive in the mail in mid-September. Discuss if you would like to add any additional information on local races or if you would like to put a personal note in from your local human dignity group.  ROP can provide samples of local group inserts.

3. Set a date and time for your group to do a “knock and drop” on the weekend of Oct. 20th and 21st! Develop a list of potential volunteers and see if they are available to walk around neighborhoods delivering STAND Voter Guides to doorsteps for a couple hours.  Let us know at ROP and we will help spread the word in your county.  ROP can support your plan for a “knock and drop” so just give us a call and we will talk to you through it!

4. Make calls to the Rising American Electorate in your county – ROP will pay for the printing and mailing of STAND Voter Guides! There is a lot of attention surrounding the Rising American Electorate this election cycle as they are folks likely to vote progressive, but only if reminded.  The Rising American Electorate – including unmarried women, young people, and people of color – make up 50% of the voting population, but have lower turnout rates.  If your group commits to making “courtesy” calls to remind folks to turn in their ballot and tracks call results, ROP will pay for and mail the STAND Voter Guide to voters in your county. The sooner we hear back from you on this, the more likely it is that ROP can make sure your county gets to participate. Let us know right away!

5. Don’t forget about the What Do You STAND For? Candidate Questionnairedesigned to help voters think critically about candidates.  Download a copy here. Take several copies with you to candidate forums. Insert them into your STAND Voter Guides for broad distribution.  They are meant to be passed out to voters to use to evaluate candidates.

6. Consider an activity to add a little more meat to your group’s Get Out The Vote plan, like a Ballot Party! Hold a get-together with your group’s allies to discuss the issues and candidates, analyze the ballot with a pro-democracy lens, and fill out your ballots.

Kitchen Table Activism (KTA) is a monthly project of the Rural Organizing Project. The theory is that basic steps and tasks can lead to powerful collective results as small groups of people gather to complete the same action throughout the state of Oregon.

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